EmpowHer: Your family has been personally affected by meningococcal disease. When did you know something was wrong?
Olga Pasick: It was the start of a new school year in September, and one evening, our 13 year-old son David got the chills, spiked a high fever and vomited throughout the night. I thought he was coming down with a viral illness like the flu. By morning we called the pediatrician to have him seen. He complained that his whole body ached, and he needed help getting dress.
That’s when I noticed the purplish spots on his chest and arms. When the pediatricians saw the rash, they diagnosed him with meningococcal meningitis and sent him to the emergency room. Despite the doctor’s best efforts, David had organ failure and died a few hours later. That’s how fast this disease can take a healthy child’s life.
Shara Ludlum: My son, Tyler, came down with flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, exhaustion) the summer he turned 10 years old. After taking him to the doctor three times, the emergency room finally determined that he was gravely ill, and needed emergency transport to a bigger facility.
He fell into a coma for eight days and fought for his life. He was hospitalized for three months, then endured triple amputations on his hands and feet. Tyler is lucky to have survived meningitis, but no family should have to go through what we did, which is why I became a Voices of Meningitis and am now encouraging other families to have their preteen and teenage children vaccinated.